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Russian 'spy whale' visits Norway salmon farm again

For the second time in one month, the white whale, who has been named Hvaldimir, visited Grieg Seafood Finnmark.

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A white beluga whale who is widely believed to have escaped from a Russian naval training station in Murmansk, where whales reportedly have been used for special operations, has been visiting Norway's salmon farms recently.

"It's great when it shows up," said Grieg's Paul Nilsen, who has taken both pictures and video of the whale. "It has been a lot in Hammerfest, which is 14 to 15 nautical miles from the site, and has also been on the site of Cermaq on the other side of the island of Seiland where our facility is located."

The office celebrity

The white whale, which suddenly appeared in Finnmark in April this year, quickly became a national celebrity, and speculation was high about where it came from, since it was dressed in some kind of harness.

IntraFish sister publication Fiskeribladet recently analyzed the whale and came to the conclusion it is likely neither a spy nor bomb whale. It's name is also not likely Hvaldimir. The whale's name is likely "Semjon," and is speculated to have been used to provide therapy for disadvantaged children in Russia. The fishing journal wrote about the whale as early as Sept. 29, 2008.

Don't stress the salmon

"It was here with us a month ago too," Nilsen said. "It just pops up and stays here for a few hours before swimming on. When we walk on the edge of the cage it comes to us, or it swims around the boat when we are in it."

But Hvaldimir has so far shown no interest in the salmon cages.

"The fish are not stressed by the whale," Nilsen said. "We have lice skirts on, and the whale only swims in the surface, so we think that might be the explanation. In any case, we have not noticed that the fish becomes uneasy. We are afraid the whale will get into the propeller on the boat, but it seems that he has a lot of control when it swims around the boat and the facility."

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